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Constitutive Principles in Science: Between Contingency and Constraint

Tuesday, March 21, 2023, 3:40 pm – 5:20 pm

This colloquium talk is planned as an in-person event with the speaker joining online. Registration is only required for non-CEU members.


Recent literature in philosophy of science has seen a revived interest in constitutive principles, that is, the idea that some principles play a foundational, constitutive role within the scientific framework in which they operate. Although there are several interpretations of these principles, their common trait is that they are contingent and yet they must be assumed as preconditions of certain epistemic activities or empirical statements. On a view that is attracting increasing attention, the way science represents phenomena is the result of a dynamic process of constitution, in which these principles not only frame the relevant target features within the space of available possibilities but are also subject to and shaped by constraints provided by experience. In this talk, I will focus on two main interpretative strands of this philosophical debate and make sense of the contingency and constraint emerging from these interpretations.


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